Let the drama begin! Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh again and this time they threw down the gauntlet (actually, a rod). A contest occurred here. It was a battle of the gods; that is, it is a battle between two men in positions of authority: a God-appointed leader of His people and a God-appointed leader of a pagan nation. But, of course, ultimately it was a battle between one who claimed to be a god and the one who alone is God. And, as every Sunday school child knows, Yahweh was the victor.
Our world is centuries removed from that of our text but the same battle rages: the battle between those who live as though they are God and those who represent the true God. As the spokesmen for God, we are “gods” (see Exodus 4:16; 6:7; 7:1; Psalm 82:6); that is as we proclaim the truth of God’s Word we (in that restricted sense) speak for God. And according to the apostle Paul, when we proclaim the gospel we are in God’s place as His “ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). And woe to those who refuse to listen!
Yes, there is an ongoing battle of the gods; those who submit to the Word of God and those who do not. And the good news is that God will win in the end. In fact, He already has, for all that we see in the world is, in a very real sense, under the reign of God and therefore is a part of the kingdom of God. As James Montgomery Boice points out, whether willing or unwilling, everyone is ruled by God. And this is pictured for us here in the book of Exodus. An example of this truth can be seen in 7:8-25.
The “contest” between Yahweh and Pharaoh had been long in coming. The LORD had prophesied this to Moses and now the fight was to take place in Egyptian territory. It might appear that the battle was between Moses (along with Aaron) and Pharaoh but in point of fact it was a war that is not between flesh and blood. Even though there would be physical ramifications, ultimately this was a war between Satan and Yahweh. This war has been going on since the fall of Satan and such spiritual warfare continues today.
The apostle tells us in Ephesians 6:10-12,
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
In other words, we too face the same kind of warfare as did Moses and Aaron and thus how they handled it gives us insight in to how we should handle ours.
As we study this passage our goal is to be equipped to confidently, because intelligently, face the spiritual warfare that we are in. May the Lord give us the grace to do so; for the good of our souls, for the good of the souls of others—all to the glory of God; the God who always is victorious.
A Truth War
At its very essence, the war recorded in these verses centred on truth. It was because Pharaoh’s heart was hardened to the truth of God that the war was waged in the first place. The war was about exposition versus experience. In one sense it was a “war of words”; that is, God’s Words verses a god’s words.
And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
The Lord informed Moses and Aaron that, upon their next audience with Pharaoh, he would ask for some proof concerning their claim that they represented a god greater than he. Keep in mind that Pharaoh was considered to be divine and thus the claim of Moses and Aaron that they were representing the true God was an affront to Pharaoh as well as to the entire Egyptian culture. These two Levitical brothers were making truth claims that were in direct conflict with that of the surrounding culture.
Their demand, couched in the language of “thus saith the LORD,” was a declaration of war. And it was for this reason that Pharaoh demanded proof of their truth claim. But we should not be surprised for “it is the same request unbelievers have made throughout the ages (Matt. 12:38). Pharaoh is testing Moses and Aaron, as well as Yahweh, to determine how much power is in their magic. It is the beginning of a contest, because in the ancient Near East the god with the most magic was supreme” (John Currid).
The text before us gives some insight into the disposition of the unbeliever. Despite the evidence presented to him, Pharaoh would not believe. He was willingly ignorant of the truth. We should note that the nature of the unbeliever has not changed over the centuries. Unbelieving “gods” are always looking for some excuse to not believe (see Matthew 12:38). Unbelievers claim to be looking for evidence when in fact they are looking for excuses.
Of course there is one undeniable proof and that is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And yet why do so many deny this undeniable truth? For the same reason that Pharaoh denied the clear revelation of God’s Word: a hardened heart (v. 13). People do not believe because they will not believe (John 5:40). God’s Word (which is truth) is threatening and for that reason unbelievers desire to resist it. And resist it they will and do.
When Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh they did what God had commanded as they cast down the “rod of God,” which immediately turned into that which challenged the accepted worldview of the day. The cobra was the symbol of Egypt (the Hebrew word tannin is translated as “dragon” in Psalm 74:13 and Ezekiel 29:3) and so with the symbol came the association of the ideas of that, which was frightening and powerful. Thus this act on the part of the prophets was most certainly a polemical taunt. And what was Pharaoh’s response to this? Further unbelief! The god of this world (who is also called a serpent) had blinded the mind of Pharaoh (2 Corinthians 4:4). Philip Graham Ryken clearly notes the true, satanic nature of this snake god:
By finding his security in the serpent-god, Pharaoh was actually making an alliance with Satan. The ancient manuscripts are explicit about this. When Pharaoh first ascended the throne of Egypt, he would take the royal crown and say:
O Great One, O Magician, O Fiery Snake!
Let there be terror of me like the terror of thee.
Let there be fear of me like the fear of thee.
Let there be awe of me like the awe of thee.
Let me rule, a leader of the living.
Let me powerful, a leader of spirits.
With these words, Pharaoh offered his soul to the devil.
Unimpressed by Yahweh’s display of power, Pharaoh called for the local spell-mutterers who then performed a counterfeit act. There is much written regarding how they did this but the fact remains that the devil has a long history of counterfeiting the works of God and so we should not be surprised.
It is very interesting that the apostle Paul refers to two of these Egyptian magicians in his second letter to Timothy. In 2 Timothy 3:8 he mentions “Jannes and Jambres” who withstood (resisted) Moses, and then he applies this to those in Timothy’s day who resisted the truth. Paul is exhorting Timothy that, even though there are those who hear and are witnesses to the truth, they will persist in their rejection of the truth. And they will do so because they are “men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” But as frustrating and as painful as this can be, it is also true that God will allow such rebellion to go only so far. Paul told Timothy, “But they shall proceed no further [i.e. than did Jannes and Jambres in defying the truth and in delaying its eventual results] for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.”
Yes, the church still faces counterfeits who claim to speak for God. Yes, they will temporarily disrupt the advancement of the kingdom; and yes, they will temporarily delay the deliverance of some. And yet, like Jannes and Jambres, they will be exposed as frauds.
The scene before us now is an interesting one, recording something of a serpent standoff. Two cobras faced each other. Perhaps the serpents circled each other trying to assess their respective opponents. But suddenly Aaron’s serpent lunged forth and gulped down the magicians’ cobra. If you were an Egyptian living in those days then you would have been horrified, for in that culture they believed that swallowing something was the way to acquire its power. As John Currid observes, “When Aaron’s rod devoured the staffs of the magicians it was destroying the authority and power that those rods symbolized.”
This event was also a foreshadowing of another “swallowing” that would take place; that is, the Red Sea gulping up Pharaoh’s army (see Exodus15:12).
Verse 13 records the response of Pharaoh, and it is a sad and all too common one: He hardened his heart. In spite of seeing the prophesied judgment upon Egypt (by the gobbling up of his cobra by Aaron’s cobra) Pharaoh chose to persist in his unbelief. And his unbelief had been sealed by this point. “The perfect tense signifies complete action,” writes Currid. “It is not that Pharaoh’s heart was in the process of hardening, but it was already hardened by this point in time.”
Let us learn from this not to be surprised when we proclaim the truth of God and experience resistance to it. Satan has the ability (though under God’s ultimate control) to keep people in bondage to false gods; just as Pharaoh remained devoted to the defeated gods of Egypt in the face of all evidence to the contrary!
The world is not a friend of grace and so we must not be surprised when Time and Newsweek and the Financial Times print articles that defy biblical truth. Whether it be the stories about finding bones in Jesus’ tomb or “evidence” of the religion of evolution, let us realise that, at the end of the day, God’s Word will devour the lies of the world. And this applies to doctrinal heresy as well.
Again, this account manifests the reality that though there is often much presentation of evidence that demands a verdict, in the end the issue of belief is not primarily an evidence issue; rather it is a heart issue. I don’t mean by this that the Christian faith is irrational; rather, what I am saying is that apart from a heart that is enabled to believe, there can be no proper apprehension of the facts of the gospel. If our hearts are bent on rejecting the truth then all the evidence in the universe will not move us. As John Calvin observes, “They are not only inclined to error, but are eagerly borne towards it with all their heart. The wicked maliciously close their eyes against the manifested power of God.”
To put it in a more contemporary saying, “My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts!” And this highlights the importance of guarding your heart, for as Solomon said, out of it flows the issues of life. If you don’t harden your heart then neither will the Lord harden it.
But this account also teaches us that in spite of scoffing sceptics, there is a time in which we nevertheless cast down the rod of God before them. Yes, Moses and Aaron knew that Pharaoh would reject the truth of God against himself and yet they still boldly made their truth claims before him. And we must do the same. We must continue to proclaim the gospel truth in spite of those who reject it, for God is still glorified, even in the lives of those who are blood earnest against glorifying Him. Standing for the truth and proclaiming the power, majesty and sovereignty of God is always a blessing to Yahweh.
Further, this account teaches us that the power was in the rod not in the man holding the rod. (Note that it was Aaron, not Moses, who wielded the rod in this instance.) This shepherd’s staff became the “rod of God” (Exodus 4:20; 17:9) and thus we can draw a parallel between this and the Word of God. When it comes to God’s Word, even though it is to be faithfully wielded by the preacher, ultimately its power comes from God, not because of the man proclaiming it.
I would never minimise the importance of properly handling God’s Word. Those who teach it are required to “rightly divide” it. And they are required to live in submission to it. Yet at the end of the day, God does what He will do with and through His Word. This should give us great comfort. The truth war will be won by the Word of truth and our responsibility is simply to hold it forth and to trust the Lord to do His thing.
Before leaving this point let me observe, with the help of Alec Motyer, that Moses is clearly a changed man in this scene. We may well ask, “Where now is the impulsiveness of 2:11-13, the hesitancy of 3:12-4:13 and the triumphalism of 5:1? Alternatively, where has all this unflurried calm (10:29), total confidence in God (9:5), and pervasive fearlessness before the king come from? … Because … of an assured outcome that pervades these stories …” That is, because Moses now really believed God’s truth he could confidently face an unbelieving culture. This is precisely what you and I are called to do.
A Turf War
Moses and Aaron had seemingly had a less than successful day in the truth war and yet the Lord was about to send them back into battle. This time they would be making it clear that this was a turf war. That is, they would now be used by God to bring forth a direct challenge to the religious life of Egypt. The next miracle would be a plague that would touch the entire nation, not merely the palace of the Pharaoh.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river’s brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand. And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear. Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river. And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said.
Up until this point the only ones who were witnesses to the skirmish between God’s truth and a god’s counterfeit were a handful of people. But now the stakes would be much higher as the entire nation, along with the Hebrews, would be witnesses to this warfare. Now the famed Nile would be the turf on which this war would be fought. And this turf held a significant place in Egyptian culture. Consider the following observation by John Currid:
The ancient Egyptians themselves looked upon the Nile as the primary source of their existence.
To the Egyptians, the Nile in its inundation was deified and personified as the god Hapi. In reliefs, Hapi is pictured as a bearded man with female breasts and a hanging stomach (signifying pregnancy?), all characteristics that reflect fertility. Egyptian texts speak of Hapi as the one who gave birth to Egypt and sustains it. Yahweh confronts this god and defeats it. God is the one who truly gives life and maintains it.
But what led to this particular turf war? Once again, it was due to Pharaoh’s heart; a heart that was not only hardened but was heavy too.
Verse 14 informs us that the Lord revealed to Moses that Pharaoh’s heart “is hardened.” But this word is different than that of v. 13. The word translated “hardened” here literally means “to be heavy.” Currid gives us the following insight to what this meant in that time period.
The idea that “Pharaoh’s heart is heavy” is an intriguing expression in view of the Egyptian background of the New Kingdom period in which the exodus occurred. At this time the Egyptians believed that when someone died the person went to judgement in the underworld. The individual’s heart—which was thought to be the very essence of the person—was weighed on the scales of truth. On one pan sat the feather of truth and righteousness; on the other lay the heart of the deceased. If the heart was heavy or weighty with misdeeds, the person was unjust, condemned and thrown to the Devouress to be eaten. If the heart was pure, the deceased would go to the Egyptian afterlife. God was simply judging Pharaoh as one with a heavy, sinful heart.
Even though the Lord had informed Moses that Pharaoh had no intention of heeding his preaching he was commanded to go forth anyway. But where Moses was sent is again evidence that this truth war was also a turf war. That is, it was to take place in a location that would challenge the cherished beliefs of the Egyptian nation generally, and Pharaoh particularly. That is, this confrontation was to take place at the Nile as Pharaoh went out to it.
Now the question arises, what was Pharaoh doing at the river? (Note that Moses would again meet Pharaoh here in 8:20 and 9:13.) I believe that he was doing what Pharaoh’s daughter was doing in 2:5: undergoing his ritual religious ablutions at this most sacred river. And thus it was to be on this very religious turf that Yahweh would take the battle.
Moses and Aaron faithfully did what they were commanded to do. They took the truth of God from the comfort of their tents and they went to proclaim it in the midst of the pagan turf of Egypt. They found Pharaoh performing his religious duties and pronounced to him that God would turn his precious Nile into blood. The purpose was that Pharaoh mighty know that “I am the LORD.” There were basically three reasons that God gave for these plagues being meted out upon the Egyptians. Walter Kaiser helps us to see these reasons:
The first (7:17): “By this you [Pharaoh] will know that I am the LORD” (repeated in 8:10 and in effect in 8:19), meaning Pharaoh would come to know just who Yahweh was and what the dynamic presence of his name signified;
The second (8:22): “That you will know that I, the LORD, am in this land,” meaning God’s overseeing providence and guidance of the world;
The third (9:14): “So that you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth,” meaning the scope and force of God’s power (cf. 9:16, 29-30; 10:1) were beyond anything known to man in all the earth.
God would prove that regardless of the turf, all the territory was His; including that which was most idolised by the Egyptians.
There has been much discussion about the nature of the Nile being turned into blood. Some say that the intention was metaphorical and that though the water did not actually become white and red corpuscles, it did however actually turn red. The suggestion by some is that the sun so shone upon the river that it only appeared to be red. Others point to the natural fact that there is indeed a type of red plankton that does exist in that part of the world which often turns water to a reddish colour. Still others maintain that the red soil that would flow from other rivers into the Nile is what caused these waters to turn red.
I think that we can dismiss the sunshine argument as completely untenable for the text tells us that these waters “stank” and that they were therefore not suitable for human use. If they had literally turned to blood then this would certainly explain this. If however we adopt the more “natural” explanations then this too could have affected the usability of the water. And indeed God would still be the one so ordering the sands or the plankton so as to make the entire river and all of its previously collected waters to turn a putrid red. But this interpretation also has its problems. I think that the best explanation is that indeed the waters turned to blood. But regardless of the exact nature of the redness, God performed this work of judgement. And again, it served a very significant purpose, as Alan Cole points out: “As the Nile was worshipped as a god, and as its water was the life-blood of Egypt; while fish was a most important food, this blow was devastating.” Or to cite Currid again:
The ancient Egyptians themselves looked upon the Nile as the primary source of their existence. All the blessings of Egypt evaporate when the Nile cannot supply its goods. Thus Yahweh attacks Egypt at the very heart of her existence. True sustenance comes only from the hand of Yahweh and not from a false pagan deity venerated by the Egyptians.
Alec Motyer explains it this way: “The very first plague struck at the heart of Egypt’s life as the whole country and its people were dependent on and sustained by the river they considered to be divine, showing that there is a God greater even than the Nile, and it is His decision whether life on earth is sustainable or not.” And Calvin notes, “There was a reason for commencing with this miracle, that the Egyptians might know that there was no safeguard for them in the resources upon which they prided themselves the most.”
After the occurrence of this miracle the magicians were once again called by Pharaoh to perform and in some way, and again they were able to counterfeit the plague. This action was ironic, for though they were obviously able to repeat the plague, they were unable to reverse the plague. Thus their “magic” only resulted in making the judgement even worse! God was turning the folly of the wicked on their own heads! By way of application, Phillip Ryken notes,
Satan’s power is self-defeating. Even his counterfeit signs and wonders ultimately serve the greater glory of God. The supreme example is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. At the time it must have seemed like Satan’s greatest triumph: The Son of God suffering, bleeding, and dying on a wooden cross. But what Satan didn’t know was that as Jesus hung on that cross, he was turning away God’s wrath by atoning for the sins of his people. Three days later Jesus rose from the dead, and Satan discovered that his greatest triumph was actually his bitterest defeat. The death of Christ was the very thing that God used to grant sinners eternal life.
So what further can we learn from this? How do these events of thousands of years ago relate to you and me? Let me highlight the following.
In our quest to honour God in the world we need to take His truth claims to “broken cisterns” of those who defy Him. That is, we need to go to the turf of those who reject the Lord and seek to show them that what or who they are trusting for security, for sustenance, and for life is impotent and that their only hope is to know the LORD. This does not mean that we are to seek to bring “judgement” upon such folly but rather that we stand and proclaim, “You are believing a lie!” Both love for God and for our fellow man demands this.
Let me try to flesh this out. We need to be so committed to the truth of the gospel that we are willing to call Islam a false religion; to boldly (and compassionately) say that Hinduism is built on a sandy foundation of lies; to make it known that there is only one way to be right with the one true God and that this is through the Lord Jesus Christ, alone! I am saying that we need to go out to the “rivers of religion,” to where our fellow man is going for religious truth and to point out that it is only water—and polluted water at that! We must take the gospel to the turf where people are involved in false worship and to point them to Christ Jesus alone. Like in this episode, our message may be ignored and even scorned, yet for the glory of God let us proclaim the truth that Yahweh is God and that any religion which teaches otherwise is false—a lie that will only lead to judgement.
Ultimately our witness to an unbelieving culture is about who and what rules and we must take this war to the streets if not to the streams.
A Tough War
Not only did Pharaoh have a hardened and a heavy heart, but he also had a hateful heart. “And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also. And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river” (vv. 23-25).
Verse 23 is a pretty typical picture of much of our witness: People pay no attention as they refuse to set their heart to what they have heard and even seen. The situation continues to increase in its misery, the people for whom one may be responsible continue to suffer, and yet there is refusal to submit to the Word of the Lord. The heart is not only hardened in stubbornness and heavy with sin but it has proved to be hateful toward the Sovereign; yea, hateful towards the Saviour!
The Scriptures clearly teach that those outside of Christ are in fact “at enmity with God.” They are at war with the Creator of the universe. This, of course, is not very smart, but sadly this is where so much of humanity lives. Rather than loving God they hate Him. And the very last thing that they are interested in is submitting to His Word and thus to His will. What is ironic, of course, is that in rejecting the commanded will of God, they are still nonetheless fulfilling the decreed will of God. And such was the case here with Pharaoh. But be careful of going too far with this. That is, Pharaoh was not a robot whom God so controlled that he could not and would not believe Him. Rather, Pharaoh chose to reject God and God chose not to change his heart. What I am saying is that Pharaoh was fully responsible for his unbelief and the subsequent hardening of his heart. And this hardened heart came about because of choices that he had made.
Be very careful about your response to truth. Each time that you reject it you become that much more hardened to it. And you may experience God’s judicial hardening as a result. Rather than experiencing this wrath of God, cry out to Him and ask God to enable you to believe. The good news is, He will!
Before proceeding let me make the following observation: Serving the Lord is not for the faint of heart. When you are committed to declaring the Word of God in a truth war on the turf of the world, then you can expect much scorn, contempt and outright hostility. Those who have proudly hardened their hearts against the clear Word of God are not usually easy people to deal with it. And some are far worse than others. But we must be like Moses and Aaron who “did as they were commanded” (v. 6) over and over again. Because the Lord has promised that even rebels will come to know who He is! Therefore we must faithfully engage the turf of the enemy in this war for truth. The war is relentless yet it is also certain in its promise of victory.
After all the evidence given to Pharaoh, he was still in bondage to his hate-filled rejection of the Lord. And yet this was all according to plan. As I said earlier, though the enemies of God despise His will, they at the same time are being used to fulfil it (see Philippians 2:9-11)! Pharaoh’s hateful heart was a means to God’s loving redemption!
But I also want for us to notice that even though some may be irredeemably hardened, there are still others that may indeed be converted to the side of truth.
A Triumphant War
As we come to a close now, we must see something that may be of significance in the story. Verses 24-25 record that the people (presumably the Egyptians) dug in the ground near the Nile to see if they could get some water that perhaps had been filtered through the sandy soil. Since this plague lasted seven days these people were in dire need of water. The text does not tell us what Pharaoh was doing but it clearly indicates the desperation of the common people. And desperation is often a wonderful preparation for deliverance!
Exodus 9:20 informs us that, in another plague, there were Egyptians which feared the LORD. I wonder whether there were not some here who did so. They certainly would have had some good motivations to do so.
Each time that they dug a makeshift well they would have seen the extent of the power of God. Perhaps it was this event with subsequent plagues that added to the conviction that the God of Moses and Aaron was indeed the real deal, while the god of the Nile was indeed an empty fraud. Again, the text does not say so, but I would like to think so. At least I know that often in church history this has been the case. In fact, in my own history this has been true.
For many years I had a hardened, heavy, and yes, even a hateful heart towards the truth of God. And yet Yahweh in His grace brought me to a point of desperation. I found myself digging all kinds of wells to find clean water which for a long time had been my source of security and sustenance. But the Lord had so touched my life with His loving hand of judgement that I finally found myself with a humbled heart—humbled by grace to receive the truth that I had for so long resisted. O how I thank the Lord that He did not leave me with an ever-increasing hardening heart! O how grateful I am that the Lord brought the war of truth to my turf and subsequently triumphed over me!
Has that been your experience? If not then today can be that day. Whatever can be said for the lessons from the book of Exodus, let it be clear that “it clearly teaches us not to trust in other gods because they will not save us” (Ryken). But by God’s grace you are invited to look to Christ as your Saviour and be delivered. Yes, to be delivered even today!
There is a spiritual war going on all around us this morning. Don’t give in to the false claims of the gods of this age but rather turn to the true God who won the battle and whom offers to you terms of peace this morning. Trust Christ and Him alone for forgiveness of sins. Do not harden your already heavy heart. Rather ask the Lord for a new heart; one that will love Him and serve Him. Such soft hearts He is gracious to give.